Thursday, May 14, 2009


While I was in Orlando (between the great sex and showering together) I got a phone call on my cellphone. I answered it only because I get so few calls that I figured it must be important coming from my sister. She was calling to ask my help in moving her classroom. The conversation was short enough that I didn't feel it necessary to tell her she interrupted an intimate moment. I told her I'd drive down to Ft. Lauderdale and help her pack up, sort through, and throw away what was necessary to get her moved from her art room that serviced 800 students/week to her new classroom for 20 second graders next year.

Toni has been teaching elementary art for 16 years at the same school. She got her degree later in life after 30 years as an independent sign painter. Three days after receiving her diploma, she was hired to teach art in an elementary school with 800 students. This year the Broward County School System (South Florida) decided to eliminate art from elementary schools and therefore, eliminating her job. She compensated by immediately getting certified to teach elementary ed to K-3 and will be teaching 2nd grade next year. She saved her employment, her paycheck, and her retirement in four years. She shouldn't have had to do this and this is wrong on so many levels.

Art has more uses than any other subject that is taught. It allows a break from the increasing academic pressures while giving kids an outlet for their creativity. Problem-solving and logic are the core of artistic projects. Students learn about science, math, history, and language incorporated into art classes. They are taught responsibility and conservation (of materials) in art class. There is a special family bond that is formed in an art class (between students and between students and teachers). I lament on what kind of children we will be graduating from elementary school without art. A little less beauty in the world. Fewer sparks of innovation and more creative minds repressed. A large percentage of children that don't do well in math, science, or history, blossom in art, music, performing arts, or creative writing. These are just as important as academic subjects.

Everything we see and buy has been created by an artist. When will the politicians in charge of the money realize art is necessary?! When will artists and educators not have to defend the need for art and not have to fight or beg for every dime that goes for art education??? The family of man will always need to express itself through art.

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